Letters to the Editor

The author of a letter to the editor (Jan. 20) made some interesting claims about what he sees as the media’s response to the coup attempt that took place on Jan. 6

in Washington, D.C.

The writer claimed “the left and the mainstream media” blame all Trump voters for the coup attempt. He also made the predictable conservative claim that the media is “the left,” whatever that left might be.

First, there is no evidence that “the media” blames all Trump voters, no evidence that it equates all Trump voters with Nazis and KKK members. The writer said that one unnamed cable news anchor editorialized that equivalency, but editorial commentary is not the same as reportage.

One might make the claim, and I have, that there is a reason that Nazis and KKK members support GOP policies, but that does not mean or imply that all GOP voters support white supremacists.

However, we can look at the actual words of the former president, and we can see numerous examples where he called for violence. He did so on numerous occasions when he suggested to his supporters that they should beat up protesters, and he also said that he would pay for their legal fees.

And, he did suggest that Nazis and other white supremacists are very fine people. He also claimed for months that the 2020 election was fixed. He repeated those baseless allegations every day. And, this constant repetition of lies was responsible for many of his more-credulous followers accepting that his lies were the truth. And, these rioters acted on what they felt was the truth.

No, not all 70-some million Trump voters went to Washington, D.C., but Trump bears the blame for the actions of the thousands who did. Trump incited them, explicitly told them to march with him to the Capitol, and his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, called on the rioters and insurrectionists to raise their fists and take the Capitol.

As to the writer’s second claim that First Amendment rights are being denied to conservative voters and voices, it rests firmly on a massive misunderstanding of the First Amendment and what it says. Contrary to the writer’s obvious belief, the First Amendment only protects against government’s attempts to suppress speech. Even that is not an unlimited right; there are no unlimited rights.

I assume the writer is addressing the fact that Twitter and Facebook denied access on their platforms to the former president after the riot on Jan. 6. True, but understand that these are private companies, not the government.

In the U.S. Supreme Court decision of 2018, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the court ruled in favor of a private business that refused to provide a service. Conservatives generally rejoiced in the court’s decision, calling it a victory for freedom.

How can conservatives then insist that two private media companies must provide an outlet for any speech, much less hate speech, inciteful speech and propaganda?

The president always has access to the public. The president can hold press conferences multiple times a day, and the White House press pool is there to cover them. However, the former president rarely held press conferences. He preferred to Tweet, some might say obsessively and at all hours. The advantage for him was that no one could question his Tweets on air or fact-check him publicly.

Finally, any effort to link the attempted coup with the protests of Black Lives Matter is a false equivalency. Protests against systemic racism cannot logically be compared to what was an actual coup attempt directed at the U.S. government, one that echoed a similar right-wing attempt in Michigan months earlier.

William Beaulieu